Hi everyone, it’s Ali again. Today I want to talk about one of the things I was most nervous about before coming to Spain: speaking Spanish with locals. While speaking Spanish with native speakers can be intimidating, I’ve found it to be more rewarding than anything else. To speak with Spaniards in their native language is something I’ve learned to appreciate; Without my Spanish language education, I would have never been able to communicate with these people. Spanish language conversations on topics over everything from politics to culture are interesting and worthwhile. I can hear people speak in their native language about things that they care about.
For me, I came to Spain to practice Spanish and to get out of my comfort zone. When speaking with locals, I actively work towards those goals. Don’t misunderstand me: speaking Spanish is difficult. It is exhausting to constantly conjugate, translate, and interpret during conversations. At the end of a long discussion in Spanish, I feel physically tired. Yet, I know that’s worth it to practice.
When I first got to Oviedo, I was apprehensive to speak in Spanish. Before each simple interaction with Spanish language native (for example, at a café or in a shop) I would calculate the exact phrases I needed to use before speaking. I was embarrassed to use Spanish since I felt that my accent was “too American” and that my grammar wasn’t good enough. I awkwardly stumbled over words to my host mom and sought to avoid conversations in Spanish. I tried to spend as much time as possible with my English-speaking friends. After a while, I decided to get over my fear of speaking. I came to Spain to practice Spanish. I couldn’t just avoid the language.
I noticed that I felt more confident with Spanish the more that I spoke it. So, I started going out of my way to hold long conversations with the various Spanish speakers I regularly interact with (my host mom, professors, friends, etc.). I began to volunteer at the local soup kitchen and have practiced my Spanish with the volunteers there. Now, I feel much more confident using Spanish. When I walk into a restaurant, I don’t have to think about the specific words I will use when I speak. Sometimes, I can have entire discussions without pre-translating from English in my head.
I thought that Spaniards would be annoyed at my grammatical mistakes, but I’ve come to learn that they’re mostly understanding. Even when I meet Spaniards that know English, they offer to speak to me in Spanish so I can practice. With the support of my host family, my professors, and other people in Oviedo, I’ve been able to drastically improve my Spanish skills
With just one week left in Oviedo, I hope to take every opportunity to speak spanish and make the most of my last few days here.
Until next time,